In 1958, Ruth Franchere's biography Willa established her as a perceptive observer of the influences of the midwest's impact on a sensitive girl. Now, turning her hand to teenage fiction, she offers a compelling portrait of sixteen-year-old Hannah Fairchild's growth from girl to woman. The setting is ante-bellum Illinois. The land is untamed and so are the majority of the inhabitants. Ignorance is the big enemy and Hannah's brother-in-law, Jonathan Stewart, is struggling to run a school for boys. Hannah, coming from New Haven's civilized, cultured society, is appalled at the conditions her sister contends with. Gradually, she gains perspective and while Hannah will never be a mousy woman, she knows that maturity requires control of her temper. Romance is provided in the traditional conflict between Eastern dandy and local boy--Hannah choosing the latter, naturally. The plot is old, but the quality of the writing raises it to a higher level than we are used to in girls' stories. Should appeal to any who have read the Johnsons' Torrie and Elizabeth George Speare's Calico Captive with gusto.